About 80% of all jobs are never posted. This hidden job market means it is even more important to build your professional network. As members of the Harvard community, you have already started building your network, with classmates, teammates, professors, tutors, advisers and more. Being able to reach out to upperclassmen about what courses to take or what research labs to join, or even about numerous other experiences is a vital way to maximize your experience at Harvard. Another great resource, especially for industry insights is alumni. There are a few different ways to engage with alumni, including the Harvard Alumni Directory and LinkedIn, but we have another unique resource that you may not know about: MCS Firsthand Advisers.
MCS Firsthand Advisers is a platform that connects students with alumni virtually from a variety of Harvard schools who work in a wide array of industries. More importantly, these alums have essentially raised their hands to volunteer to offer career advice to students, including mock interviews and resume reviews. Below are some tips on how to best use Firsthand Advisers.
1. Login and create an account! Visit https://harvardmcs.firsthand.co/. If it is your first time accessing Firsthand, use the “No password yet?” link to have a password sent to your Harvard email address. Select “Get Advice.”
2. Complete your profile. This includes updating your name, email, and educational background. You can also include your career goals, which may be a helpful primer when meeting with alumni.
3. Use the search filters to find advisers for specific industries, or people who concentrated in certain fields of study. You can also just type a company name or specific role (i.e. “software engineer”) into the search bar.
4. Select advisers by appointment type. You can select from three types: career conversation, resume/CV critique or mock interview.
5. Review alumni profiles and schedule a meeting time. It is suggested you select three possible times to offer the alumni flexibility. They will select a time that works for them and you will meet virtually via video on the platform unless they specify otherwise.
6. Add a personal message. This will help guide the conversation and give the alum some insights into what your expectations are. If you want some recommendations on how to craft this message, then you should consult our Making Connections guide (see page 8 for an outreach email example). Generally, it is a good idea to introduce yourself (name, concentration, class year). You also have the option to attach a resume. Note: If you want your resume reviewed before meeting with an alum, consider talking with an MCS adviser.
7. Another feature of the platform is the communities. For example, if you identify as first-generation, there is the FGLI students and alumni community that you can request to join. We are still building out this feature so it doesn’t encompass all affinity groups.
8. Commence networking! That’s it. You have scheduled a career conversation and now you are on your way to leveraging your Harvard network!